Sheffield ambitious tourism plans to attract more major events following Women’s Euros success
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One innovative idea to promote the city is a plan to turn a lift tower at Park Hill flats into an urban climbing wall for a week, with celebrities and top climbers being invited to have a go at ‘Climbing at the Sky’s Edge’.
This links to the huge success of the Crucible Theatre-created musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge, telling stories from Park Hill’s history and featuring the music of Sheffield musician Richard Hawley.
One of the members of Sheffield City Council’s economic development and strategy committee, Coun Kurtis Crossland, jokingly challenged committee chair Coun Martin Smith to have a go at the speed climbing challenge.
The council also wants to build on the success of co-hosting the women’s football Euro tournament last year in attracting more big events to Sheffield. The development of a new Major Events Plan will inform bidding for and hosting events.
A study commissioned by The FA, UEFA and UK Sport found that Sheffield as a host city of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 benefited from an £8.3 million boost to the local economy.
The tourism and marketing strategies aim to help make the city a leading destination for visitors across Europe, boosting the local economy and opportunities for Sheffield residents and businesses.
In 2022, visitor spending brought in an estimated £1.35 billion for the city and supported 13,285 full-time jobs in Sheffield. A new Destination Management Plan to turn the city into a world-class visitor destination, created by council organisation Marketing Sheffield, was adopted by the committee.
Coun Smith said: “It’s great to see Sheffield adopting a strategic plan to grow tourism and support the visitor economy. “It will help fill more hotel rooms, sell more cups of coffee, fill more restaurants and see more money spent with local businesses.
“We have an ambitious plan and look forward to working with partners across Sheffield to deliver it.”
The strategy has five key objectives, including developing Sheffield’s city breaks offer, growing the conferences market and diversifying and strengthening the city-wide events programme.
Sheffield has also been marketed by the council as a student city, in conjunction with its two universities, which the committee was told is a ground-breaking move and possibly a world first.
Work on promoting city breaks has already tempted in visitors from London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, the committee was told.
Since the university and city breaks campaigns have been running, website visits have increased from an average of 2,000 per day to 8,000 per day – around 2.9 million visitors per year.
With the UK events sector worth an estimated £42.3 billion in 2022, the council wants to ensure Sheffield is well-positioned to take advantage of the economic benefits that events bring.
This includes work to boost the number of major conferences held in the city.
Coun Crossland urged the council to help ensure that an LGBTQ+ Pride event returns to the city. Director of economy, skills and culture Diana Buckley said that work is underway to help revive Pride.
Coun Terry Fox congratulated the team on their “brilliant” work but said that major decisions need to be made on budgeting before more can be achieved. Ms Buckley said she agreed that teams are at their limits of what they can deliver and without more funding there is no room for expanding what events can be bid for.
Major events manager Gary Clifton said that the idea to bid for the Women’s Euros five years ago was “laughed out of several rooms” but its success had woken a lot of people up to the possibilities.
He added: “Now is the chance to grasp the nettle. Aspiration is everything because if you get the aspiration right, all the rest will follow – the benefits, the economics, the social engagement, the profile, the people, the smiles on people’s faces – they all follow.”